A debate often tends to surface these days, as to who wields more Power and Privileges – the State (Actor) or the big Technology Companies (Non-State Actors)? The recent conflict between the Government of India and Twitter has triggered this controversy. Earlier, a somewhat similar controversy surfaced after the Government of Australia had taken actions against Facebook. The Global Community has no idea whether big Technology Companies are really the protectors of Democracy. Often, they behave like friends of the State. Sometimes, they also become enemies! In majority of the counties, the relations between the Technology-driven Organisations and the Governments are not always smooth.
Although most of these Tech Giants are mostly based in the US, they have failed to maintain cordial ties with the US Government. Currently, Australia, the European Union (EU), India, the US and some other countries are trying to curtail the freedom of these Organisations.
In the beginning of the 21st Century, the Global Community thought that the rise of Technology Giants would help the State strengthen Democratic Values. No one can deny the fact that these Companies have accomplished this to quite an extent, as the voices of individuals and groups are being heard because of Google, Facebook or Twitter in the contemporary world. They reach out to the masses with statements issued by Governments or Human Rights messages. Most probably, this is why these Companies had received various legal and financial exemptions from the State in the past.
In recent times, these Tech Giants have started affecting the State Power, riding on their success in Business. The last two US Presidential Elections were marred by allegations of political interference against major Social Media Organisations. It is expected that there should be healthy competitions among business organisations in Democratic Nations. The US Government has taken legal action against Organisations, like Google, for running uncontested monopolies.
Facebook, too, is facing criticism after it blocked news contents in Australia amid a dispute with the Government over a planned Law. The Law is all set to force the Tech Giant to pay for news contents on their platforms. While Facebook has claimed that the legislation fundamentally misunderstands its relationship with publishers; various Governments, publishers and Rights Groups have accused the Social Media Company of bullying, apart from expressing concerns over access to information. Facebook recently blocked Australian users from viewing and sharing local and international news, and also blocked local publishers from sharing or posting any links on their pages. Again, Twitter, reportedly has suspended former US President Donald Trump’s account permanently on January 8, 2021. Whether Trump is a good person or whether Twitter’s move is good for Democracy is not an important issue, here. The most important issue is: whether the head of a Business Organisation has that much power so that he can take actions against the former Head of the world’s most powerful State! The activities of large Technology-driven Organisations have helped Democratic Nations realise that new, clear and transparent Laws are required to control the Digital World.
The EU has called for enactment of Digital Markets Act to bring transparency and competition in Digital World. From exploitation of employees to tax evasion, these large Technology-driven Corporations, seemingly, have developed a tendency to break rules. The State needs to take actions to stop all these…
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